Venezula, Caracas : 16th May 2003

Well, who would have imagined that I´d get the opportunity to write a few insightful thoughts for the TATA Challenge web-page…. Life certainly has an interesting way of turning and twisting!

I will be no stranger to those who reads the TATA diary entries regularly as Mise took the opportunity with the previous one to introduce me.

 

Never did I think that I will get the chance to experience what life has to offer outside my compound, never mind outside of my country of origin, which is Brazil. When Miss M came to our stables in Manaus, I was brought out into the courtyard and my first impressions were that Miss M was not too keen on me. You see I roll my eyes in a funny way when I am nervous and I am sure she must have thought I have a bit of a crazy streak in me. She got on top of me nevertheless and I knew if I wanted the opportunity to broaden my horizons, now was the time to perform for it! I put up the most amazing walk man had ever witnessed and Miss M couldn´t hide her surprise and joy. News spread fast in our horse-community and that evening I overheard that I was indeed the chosen one to accompany Miss M and Mise from Brazil onwards. I also got the terrible news about Tusa…..

This kind of long distance riding was quite alien to me at first but I really tried my best as I didn’t want to disappoint my fellow companions. Miss M was delighted about my energetic and smooth trot and then when she saw how well I led on the rope that is attached to the saddle, she thought she had won the jackpot! After a week or so I stopped trying to bully Mise when it became clear that she accepts me as part of the trio and now we really are great buddies.

We arrived in Ciudad Bolivar tired and hot. It took us ages to get through the city and as Miss M was given the wrong directions (sure we believe that!), it took us a while before we reached our destination. We were put in the backyard of the Eulacio family-home and had a good 3-day rest. On our way through Venezuela everybody had asked us how we will cross Puente Angostura (it looks like the bridge in San Francisco) outside Ciudad Bolivar as it is very long (about 1.6km). The words “prohibited” and “dangerous” were also used. As usual Miss M won’t let us tell the juiciest parts of our travels so everybody will just have to wait for when she decides to share this experience with you!

Mise got very tired from having to go on the tarmac so much and Miss M was terribly frustrated that we couldn’t go on the side of the road. It is not with pleasure that we have to share the news that some people in Venezuela simply do not care about littering their country. From Puerto Ordaz and well until after Ciudad Bolivar, we encountered loads and loads of rubbish on the side of the road especially beer bottles – whole ones, broken ones…. Off course this made it impossible for us to do our trotting there and Miss M had to choose between the lesser of two evils…. hence we landed on the hard tar surface most of the time.

Miss M was urged by our friend Blancita to go to the farm of Yurubi and Jimmy near Anaco where we can rest thoroughly. They were very friendly and good to us and Miss M really enjoyed the company of Yurubi whom she thought to be hilariously funny. Times are difficult for a lot of people in Venezuela at the moment and both Miss M and Yurubi attended a demonstration on Workers Day where they walked with banners and loud whistles through the streets of Anaco, protesting against the government, the political and economical situation but more against Chavez, the current president. Miss M was so touched to see how many lives had been negatively affected by troubles in Venezuela especially over the past year, that she wrote and article about this. Off course we will let you know if she managed to get it published.

Miss M decided to go up to Puerto La Cruz (without us) to look at the possibilities of finding a Cargo boat that will take us all to Central America as you all know that the decision was made from the very beginning NOT to go through Colombia. Four radio interviews werearranged on one day but neither this, nor the newspaper articles nor the 11 O’clock news bulletin about our travels, helped to secure our transport to Costa Rica as had been hoped. It soon became clear that we will have to move to bigger and possibly greener pastures and so we arrived in Caracas, the capital of Venezuala.

Blancita continued to be in touch with us and it was also with her help that the three of us had a resting place in the city until our exit from South America was secured. A lot of phone-calls were made and everybody was on ‘alert’ about the search for a boat but all in vain….. and then the light came. DHL was mentioned and like a flash of lightning, Miss M got in touch with Vicky, the Marketing Manager in Ireland to enquire about help from them. Luck was truly on our side because in less than 24 hours Miss M had confirmation that DHL Ireland was willing to cover the costs to fly Mise, Miss M and I to Costa Rica!

The work was not over yet as we needed to get vaccinations, Aneamia tests had to be done and International Health Certificates acquired…Against all the odds, Miss M and Blancita managed also to get all the official papers, one day before the departure date. A true miracle but more about this later!

Our first flying experience was exhilarating but also a bit scary, for me anyway. I can’t say for sure what Mise was feeling though. She had this air of nonchalance and took the whole ordeal completely in her stride as if this was merely another opportunity to accumulate some extra air miles! Miss M sat with the pilots but was allowed to come and check on us after take-off where we were standing between all the DHL packages in grey steel containers with only our heads sticking out.

We arrived safe and sound in our next (air)port of call…. so thank you so much DHL for your very kind generosity, making it possible to continue with our travels again.

Mise will be spokesperson next time, telling all about our arrival in San Jose and our experiences in our very first Central American country, Costa Rica.

“Chevre” as they say in Venezuela!!

 

 

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